Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I don't know whether you noticed.....

in these two photos from the other day, that I am wearing a new top. 
I made this top using New Look 6870 and yet some more of the op shop fabric I wrote about here  This is the fourth piece I have made up from this haul.  I really like this top.  The fit is bang on.  My only complaint was the fabric.  It is a georgette type of mystery fabric that frays like you wouldn't believe.  Every time I work with it I vow, never again.  I think you will agree that the finished product was worth it.  The pattern comes with a tie at the back.  I am not usually partial to ties  but unfortunately given the shape of the blouse it would be difficult to get it sitting nicely without it, hence the tie stays.  Would I make this blouse again?  Definitely, although I am quite keen to try one of the other styles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Summer......In The City

With the mercury hitting the early thirties yesterday, it was time to give my new sundress an airing.  I made it using Simplicity 2642 and a piece of cotton fabric from the op shop that I wrote about here  I really wanted to make the three tiered version but only had enough fabric for the double tiered version.  My solution was to make the double tiered version but to make both tiers longer.  I found I needed to stitch the two fronts of the bodice together because it gaped and also needed to put elastic underneath the bodice at the front because it stuck out a little like a tent giving me no shape.  I am rather pleased with the final result but don't think I would actually use this pattern again in a hurry, simply because I think there must be better patterns out there.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Strange Place I Call Home

This post comes with a is heavily laden with photos!

Yesterday was the first time since February 22nd that the public were allowed entry on foot into the heart of the CBD.  Although the walk came with the warning that you may be seriously injured or indeed die, in the event of a large earthquake, we felt compelled to see for ourselves.  Armed with passports for the kids, as everyone entering needed to carry ID in case of disaster, we entered the red zone.

It is a strange thing to see streets that should be teaming with Christmas shoppers, deserted.  The buildings either boarded up or missing altogether and the streets littered with rubble.

We quickly walk past the large BNZ building that is earmarked for demolition soon because it is unsafe.
We follow the trail of mesh fencing that leads us to cathedral square, which is our final destination.

Nothing can quite prepare us for the site of our most famous landmark in such a terrible and precarious state.  We are all very aware that this is probably the last time we will see this great building again because it looks doubtful whether it can be saved.

As we follow the trail back to safety, this caught my daughters eye.....
"Summer Sale...Extended until the end of the week".  Nothing has changed here since 22 February

The council have made an effort though, and have hung Christmas decorations in the shattered streets.

As we round the corner we enter the safe zone again.  The first shop we see has it's annual Christmas display up.  The same display that I bought my 7 year old to see this time last year.  We had parked in a high rise parking building and my son asked  "what happens if there is an earthquake".  This was after earthquake number one.  I told him there would not be another one.....famous last words!

Just around the corner from the above devistation is this .  The whole block of shops has been demolished in city mall.  A lot of them fell down and the rest could not be saved.  They have constructed this mall out of shipping containers as a temporary solution.  I rather like it.  The atmosphere with the boutique shops and cafes is lovely on a sunny day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Every Picture Tells A Story

Today was polling day.  The day where all adult New Zealander's pop into their local primary school or community centre and vote for a new government.  We were no exception.  Since it was such a beautiful day, we also went for a stroll around some new markets, and popped into the local cafe for a quiet drink. 

Usually when I take photos for my blog I set up the tripod, but today, since everyone was home, I asked my daughter to take my photo.  I began walking around the yard looking for just the perfect spot, when my daughter called out "taken it", and this is the result, a 30 second photo shoot. 

I wrote about this blouse here  It was made using Simplicity 4589. 
Today I am wearing the blouse with white cropped pants by Staxs, elasticated belt by Max and sandals by Diana Ferrari.  I think I like the blouse just as much as a summer blouse as I do winter.   

Friday, November 25, 2011

City Shorts

While jeans are my go to outfit in the winter, shorts serve the same purpose in the summer.  I do however feel quite strange turning up to the supermarket or my children's school, showing too much leg, which is where city shorts come in.  I currently have a pair of denim long shorts but these are too warm a lot of the time, so this fabric is perfect. It is a cotton synthetic blend that has much of the some properties and feel as stretch drill.  I picked it up in one of my op shop fabric hauls so actually it's composition will forever remain a mystery. 
 For the pattern I used my go to Jalie jean pattern.  I had intended to add tabs to the bottom of the legs like my favourite rtw city shorts, but realised I had made the legs a little too narrow, oh well, never mind, I like them this way as well.  The only alterations I made to my jean pattern, is I added tab closures to the pocket and a patch type pocket to the front (this is a little hard to see, but unfortunately the photo I took of the front of the pants had an error, darn it). 

Today I am wearing my new shorts with one of my favourite tees made using New Look 6648, which I wrote about here

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I have serious pattern love...

This dress has been in the planning stages for a while.  I made it using Simplicity 3503 and the same knit fabric I used for this top here  I trimmed it with a very loud polyester knit I found at my local fabric shop.  My family said it was very hippy looking but I didn't let a small thing like that detract from my vision. I made the dress to a size 10 and actually didn't have to alter a thing except the length.   It was extremely quick to make up despite my sewing machine taking a serious disliking to the plain red fabric.  The printed fabric it liked thankfully and so it should of for what this little bit cost me.  I think this may now be one of my favourite summer dresses. It is a little Christmasy looking don't you think!  I am now really keen to try the sleeved version, perhaps for autumn or with shorter sleeves as a tunic over leggings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

During October, I was given the Versatile blogger award by Handmade by Carolyn thank you so much to Carolyn.   The rules are as follows, you have to write seven things about yourself.  That probably isn't a big problem because I am relatively new to this blogging scene but the thing that was really holding me back was, who do I pass this award on to!  The blogs I seem to follow have all been around for much longer than myself and have already had more awards than I can mention here.  So, I thought I would just hold onto this award for a rainy day.  Today is just that, it is really bucketing down outside and rather than whip up a...ahem...sundress that is on my table, I will whip up this post instead.

*  I began sewing as soon as I could safely wield a pair of scissors and could be trusted with a needle.  I remember with my younger sisters and a neighbourhood friend spending many an afternoon whipping up clothing for my barbie dolls.  In those days  Barbie rtw clothing was extremely expensive, and we were lucky enough to get the occasional outfit but I think our Barbies were the best dressed in town with our home made creations.  I still have most of these dresses and knitted ensembles and my daughter has also spent many hours as a small child dressing her dolls in the same clothes.

*  The first real item of clothing I made myself, was a wincette (sp?) winter nightie.  I must have been about 10 years old at the time and was helped by my grandmother.  I don't still have the nightie but do remember it vividly.

*  I took sewing in year 9 and 10 at high school and failed miserably even though I spent most of my classes helping my classmates.  Apparently my colouring in wasn't up the scratch....I still can't quite figure out what that is about!  Any ho that class was dropped in favour of more academic subjects.

During my late teens and early twenties, I made just about everything I wore except underwear and jeans.  Like most young people I spent nearly everything I earn't on my back, much to my mothers disgust.  This was probably the time when I sewed in most detail and was least afraid of failure...let's face it, at this age we are all pretty fearless.  My greatest sewing accomplishments during this time were a beautiful leather jacket and my wedding dress I posted about here.

*  The most fun I have had sewing actually began when I was pregnant with my first child.  I spent much of my pregnancy creating newborn onsies and a bassinet set, as well as a cot set for my daughter.  From then on I was hooked on kids clothing and eagerly devoured each new issue of Topkids each season for inspiration for her clothing.  My husband must have despaired over the quantity of fabric being regularly dragged home to our small home from the fabric store.

*  After my 3rd child was born I began my own nappy making business.  I was unwell at the time, and my doctor suggested some me time and of course for me that meant sewing.  I wasn't actually going to use cloth nappies for my third child even though I had used them almost exclusively for my first and sporadically for my second.  I went to a cloth nappy party (a bit like a Tupperware party) and was hooked on this modern cloth nappy revolution.  Because there was no choice of brands in New Zealand, I imported some fabric and began making them when my baby was sleeping and once he had more than he needed I began selling them on Trademe.  A website soon followed and at the height of my business I even had an outworker.  I loved the creative process and the positive feedback I was receiving from my customers and because I had my own baby using my products I knew my product worked.  I closed my business once my "baby" started school because I felt I had lost touch with parenting babies and it was time to move into work outside the home.

*  I began blogging for similar reasons to my nappy business.  I wasn't ill this time but as stress relief.  On 4 September last year my life and that of everyone else in this province came crashing down around me.  At 7.1, we experience the biggest earthquake in history in this area.  My kids had never felt an earthquake of any magnitude so you can imagine the impact on family life.   We experienced thousands of aftershocks in the coming months but these were reducing and so was our stress when 22 February struck killing hundreds in the central city, and demolishing the entire CBD and once again turning our lives into chaos.  Although this time we had less damage to our property, this time I was made redundant like a lot of other people.  There were no jobs to be had.   They are just coming on line now.  While some malls were closed with damage and the CBD closed indefinitely (most still is), and reluctance to enter buildings with daily shakes, I began sewing again to satisfy both my retail therapy craving and also to focus on something positive.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed the creative process but I think the best thing I have gained out of the blogging process is being able to mix with like minds online.  Something, that I have always found missing in real life.  Other than my family, I really don't know any other creative people and sometimes I feel people look at you a little oddly when you say you have made something.  I am not sure whether they are envious or just think you are a little eccentric.  One thing that does please me though, is making things is becoming more cool and anything handmade is actually desirable....long may it continue!

Now I am passing this award onto Lisa of Lisa Sews should you chose to accept it......

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In The Deep End

One of the issues with being a dressmaker, is that some of my projects border on being chores and this project was one of those.  I have put off making these because the project was not my most exciting to date.  I have had the fabric sitting there for over a month and rather than put it away, I sat it on my sewing table to guilt me into getting started.  I would much rather get stuck in to my new maxi dress which is just about begging to get made but, no, yesterday, I resisted the maxi temptation in favour of swim trunks for the little grommet.  If I didn't make these soon the poor wee fellow may have a major wardrobe malfunction at the pool and never forgive me.  Because he swims once a week, and in very heated water indoors, the elastin in the swim trunks last next to no time at all.  His swim school insists that he swim in lycra because boardies slow them down, something the grommet will attest to when he has worn them in the past.   Anyway, at $45 per pair, you can understand why I thought I would make something, especially given he is so darned skinny that there really is next to no fabric in these things anyway.  After cutting up his old pair to make a pattern, I was at the point of no return.  The black fabric, I already had, so this project only involved the purchase of the green for contrast.  I have enough fabric left of both to make another pair at a later date.  Because my son has got much taller but no wider since I bought the last shorts, I made these ones both longer in the body and the leg but the same width.  I used my cover stitch for the hem, because I am finally getting the hang of using it.  The cover stitch has so many dials, for a while there it was doing my head in!  I think they have turned out pretty good and best of all they fit....yah!  Now, the proof will be in the pudding, so they say, and we will see how they perform under extreme chlorine conditions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Fabric Haul

Over the last week I haven't done any sewing because my poor machine was having an enforced holiday at the mechanics.  The tension had gone and apparently I had broken the plate beneath the presser foot....who new!  I borrowed my mothers machine to finish a project but I found that using someone elses machine was akin to driving someone elses simply didn't feel quite right. Anyho, a couple of days ago, I went to pick it up.  On the way I happened across another charity shop and the above stack of fabric.  Most of it is really winter fabric but that is okay, I have more than enough projects to keep me going for the remainder of the sunny season.  The best thing about all of this fabric was it only cost $2 per piece, regardless of the length...bargain!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Little Black Dress

Much has been made over the years, of the versatility of the little black dress.  I have owned one in the past but amazingly, considering the amount of black in my wardrobe, I don't currently have one.  Does your go to dress really have to be black though?  I think not!  I thought I would have a play with yesterdays dress and see really, how far it would take me.  I have only just scratched the surface here as I am sure, if I put my mind to it, I could create a lot more uses for this dress, out of the contents of my wardrobe.  I don't own a lot of clothes.  I think I may have been a minimalist in a previous life.  The clothes I do have, need to be versatile to keep up with the demands of my family.  My go to items are usually, boots and merinos for winter and flats and tees for spring and sandals and jandals for summer.  Summers where I live are generally hot but fleeting, only December, January and February so a dress dedicated to sun worship is a luxury.

A trip to the beach.....

Lunch at the cafe....

A day at the office.....

An autumnal walk in the park....

In the last photo the boots and merino lasted all of 5 minutes because it is way to warm to be dressed like this at the moment.  Just as well I took the photo at 8.30am!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One I Prepared Earlier

I thought I would get a head start on my Christmas shopping yesterday.  Because of the earthquake the city centre is still largely cordoned off so any shopping is restricted to malls.  I have a feeling these will get even more insanely busy once the real Christmas rush begins so I want to be prepared.

This dress was made last summer using Butterick 6067.  The fabric is a stretch woven cotton.  I made it to wear to an engagement party but because it is cotton it translates well into a casual dress as well.  Because the air conditioning in the malls can be a little cool, I paired the dress with a black tee which turns what was designed as a sundress into a tunic come pinafore.  Because of the lycra content, this dress is extremely comfortable to wear so no doubt will become a favourite over the summer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I haven't posted in a while because I have been away here,
enjoying a bit of
with friends and finding time to do a bit of
and to top it all off, long walks on the
Don't you just love long weekends!

This is the interior of our caravan.  She is a classic, 1977, probably state of the art in her day.  We bought it because it is a 6 berth which came in really handy when the kids were small.  Having little kids in a caravan however meant sand, grass and more tomato sauce spills than I care to mention on both the upholstery and the carpet so last year we redid the interior.  We had new carpet laid and I set about making new squab covers in something a little more kid friendly than the cotton canvas squab covers we inherited.  The current fabric is a rib type synthetic heavy weight fabric that I can throw in the washing machine.  The squabs were easy but the back rests proved to be more of a challenge because they flip up and become bunks.  Covering these involved a lot of cutting, sewing, refitting and more sewing.  Unlike previously we now have backrest covers that can also be thrown in the washing machine. I found a beachy stripe remnant that I made up into cushion covers to make the seats a little more settee like. 

The other thing that annoyed me about caravan circa 1977, is the double beds are so darned narrow.  Before heading out this weekend my husband made an extension and I bought a piece of foam and robbed an old sheet from my linen cupboard to cover it.  We now have a full queen size bed....fantastic, we will never want to come home!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Look What The Courier Delivered To Me Yesterday....

These were sent by my husband because it was our 20th Wedding Anniversary yesterday.  He informed me that 20 is china, so since that is pretty boring, unless your talking about a trip to China, he sent me flowers.  Now some of my readers may get flowers regularly, but in the past I have needed to produce a newborn to get them so this was a really nice surprise!

I thought that I would show you all today what I was wearing 20 years ago yesterday.  I put it on mini me because although I still fit it, it is impossible to get all of the buttons done up and really I just didn't want to go there.

My dress is a little wrinkled from storage and is without the  voluminous petticoat that I used on the day, but you get the idea.  This dress took me and my lovely departed grandmother months to complete.  My grandmother painstakingly hand sewed all of the pearls and sequins on every lace panel on the dress, and there are many.  The dress was taken from a bridal magazine so we bought a pattern and redrafted the mutton chop sleeves and virtually the entire bodice to match the magazine dress.  The lower sleeves are made of lace with a tiny spot and lined with tulle for strength, as is the bodice and dress cutouts  as well.  The floral lace was bought by the metre and cut to suit.  The scallop hem was the original selvedge of the lace.  I find it hard to believe now that I took on such a complicated and daring project but my grandmother used to do this for a living so she guided my all of the way.  I will never part with this dress mainly because my grandmother passed away 12 years ago but I would also love it if one day my own daughter chose to wear my dress....but that is entirely up to her!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

 The climate I live in is particularly suited to skirts.  At this time of the year the day can start in the early teens and rise anywhere up to early thirties by 10am, although I am still waiting for the thirties this year, just quietly.   I spend a lot of time in skirts and 3/4 pants at this time of the year.   We also get quite a bit of wind in the spring and summer so skirts that aren't too floaty are a better bet for modesty.  After the success of the army green skirts blogged about here I wanted to make another one.  This skirt is in a woven cotton linen type fabric with a small amount of lycra.  I added 20cm to both the front and back to create pleats and with the help of a tie I had rescued from a pair of track pants, and some blue crepe I had in my stash,  I made some blue piping.

The tee shirt was made using a piece of light weight cotton lycra knit.  I used Jalie 2806 again but this time altered the pattern to omit the gathering, and added ruffles.  The ruffles didn't work out quite as I had hoped.  They collapse a bit, but that is okay because they look like they were intended to be that way.  Because the fabric was quite light weight I added bands to the sleeves.

I think I am finally done with the Jalie pattern for this summer.  In total for myself and my daughter, I have made 7 tops using this pattern.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Buy In Haste...Repent At Leisure

After seeing Carolyn's fantastic Vogue V1248 skirt here I had to have one and I knew exactly the fabric I would make it from.  I had seen some gorgeous shirting weight fabric with a fine self stripe on the sale table of my favourite fabric store.  The fabric gods were smiling on me because the fabric was still on the sale table and as an added bonus all Vogue patterns were 50% off, which is quite a big deal when they retail at over $30.00 each.  Before I had a chance to even think about the practicalities of the project, the pattern and fabric were in my car and on the way home.

After my little shopping buzz had worn off, it occurred to me that my fabric was not quite wide enough....oops, and the sheer scale of this skirt may overwhelm my 160cm frame....what to do....what to do!  So, I did nothing.  The fabric and pattern sat on my sewing table and taunted me for the best part of a month before I bit the bullet and cut it out.  My solution was to scale down the whole pattern.  Not a piece remained it's original size.  I also left off the waist tie.  As much as I loved it, I felt that it would just be too much on a small person.  I haven't written the whole tie idea off, just not on this skirt.  The other thing I radically changed was the underskirt.  Because the fabric is so light, I had to have an underskirt but I didn't see why it needed to be as full as the pattern suggested.  I retained the shape but took out most of the fullness which on me gives a much more streamlined silhouette.

Would I use this pattern again?  Well, yes I would because I am really happy with the way it turned out but, really, how many versions of this skirt does one person need?  I haven't ruled out a frankenpattern yet though, so, watch this space!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It All Started With A Big BANG!

Because last night was Guy Fawkes Night, the kids sent their father out to buy some fireworks.  We could have gone to a public display, but that comes with it's own issues and there are calls to ban the public sale of fireworks.  Given this is the last year we may be able to have our own, we bought a box.  My husband sent the kids outside after dinner to prepare the site.  This involved a bucket of sand so our lawn didn't get burnt and a bucket of water for, well, just in case.  Half way through the task my youngest came running inside.  When asked what he was doing, he said, he just had to check to make sure it was our  allocated watering day!  Bless his heart!  We have water restrictions that involve only using a hand held hose on certain days of the week.  I am pretty sure no one will complain if we are putting out a patch of burning lawn though do you!

Then we waited, and waited, and waited.  It takes an awful long time to get dark in these parts when you are only 8 years old.  By 9pm the sun was just setting below the horizon, so my excited little man could wait no longer.  We began lighting up.  I don't know what moved faster though, the firework or the wee man.  He was off like a rocket behind the closest concrete pillar!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Something is missing in my life...

My trusty Janome broke.  Right in the middle of my new dress, the bobbin tension went.  Not to worry, I thought.  I have my spare machine.  My very reliable 1950's Bernina Record.  I haven't used it much since I closed my nappy business but I will never part with it.  You wouldn't believe it though....the tension had gone on it as well...bummer!  So, I had to google sewing machine mechanics.  Nothing is where it is supposed to be in this city since the February earthquake.  A lot of businesses have been forced to move and a lot to close.  I finally found one, around the corner from my favourite fabric shop.  It is now being repaired and will be ready in two weeks.  Two whole weeks without a working machine.  How will I cope.  Mum came to the rescue of course and lent me her machine to complete said dress...few!

While waiting for my sewing machine to be repaired, gardening is my second activity of choice.  In the photo above I am wearing my latest pair of shorts. They should meet with my son's approval because they have longer legs than the black pair I was wearing the other day. I made these shorts in beige linen.  I made a trial pair first in a size 12 in some cotton duck I had and found I needed to go down to a size 10.  I also needed to lower the waist at the front by 3.5cm which makes the waistline very similar to the Jalie jeans that I love.  I now have these shorts re drafted so I can make them up without all of the pinning and fitting.  I will definitely use it again and am quite keen on some of the skirts as well. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Look 6648 AGAIN...

Are you sick of this pattern yet?  I am a little sick of blogging about it but certainly not of wearing it.  This time I made the v-neck version.  I made the sleeves shorter on this one but I wish I had made the neck a little smaller because it does rather fall off my shoulders.  The thing I like best about this style, is, it is loose and flappy enough to be cool in the hot weather but also covers enough skin so as not to get burnt.  This is essential in our climate because we have one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

Today I am wearing it with shorts I bought in Queensland last autumn and my floppy Billabong hat I also bought in Queensland.  This is the first time I have worn these shorts since I bought them.  After my son's friends had all been swimming and gone home, my son asked me to wear some longer shorts next time.  I was a little surprised and asked why!  Aparently his friends mothers do not wear short shorts.  Now these shorts are not short in the teenage girl sense, I think that is inappropriate for a mother, but mid thigh, really! Also, I didn't parade around school in shorts or the local shopping mall....I was at home.  I did walk over to the local park to drop my other son at football training but that was as far as I ventured.   Should Mum's really be covered up neck to knee?  What do you think?